Scott Levinson initially said he’s never been arrested, but he was charged with a minor drug offense

scott-levinson-speaks
Levinson faced drug charges in 1993.

Hillsborough County Commission candidate Scott Levinson provided inaccurate information on his Tampa Bay Times candidate questionnaire by initially indicating he had never been arrested.

It turns out, Levinson has been in trouble with the law before, albeit more than 25 years ago and on minor charges. He was charged in December of 1993 with possession of narcotics and paraphernalia. A police report shows he was in possession 1.6 grams of marijuana and a wooden pipe containing residue.

Levinson accepted a plea deal that required him to enter an intervention program, common for first-time drug offenses.

Levinson claims he forgot about the decades-old incident and initially indicated to the Times he had not been arrested. He said he later reached out to the Times to inform them of the incident.

The Times editorial board declined to comment on the questionnaire when asked to confirm Levinson’s claim. But Levinson told Florida Politics he had forgotten about the incident because he was never arrested. He said the charge related to a party in which law enforcement showed up. Attendees scattered and he later received a notification about the charge, but never personally attended court, he said.

Levinson provided an email to back up his claim that he then informed the Times of his omission.

“I had some information come to my attention concerning one of my answers on the questionnaire I submitted to you for the campaign. If you have an opportunity to contact me before Monday, I am available 24/7,” Levinson wrote to Times editorial writer John Hill on July 3, providing his cell phone number and informing him that if he didn’t hear back before Monday, he would call Hill then.

He also provided a text message from Hill Thursday morning. Levinson texted Hill about Florida Politics’ inquiry about the questionnaire. Hill responded, “Yes Scott. I remember you calling me after submitting the questionnaire to clarify that.”

In another questionable move, Levinson, in a virtual candidate forum featuring local Republicans in August, said he had not registered to vote until 2015 or 2016. That’s also not true.

Levinson first registered to vote in the Bill Clinton era, but was removed from the voter rolls due to inactivity in 1995. He again registered as a Republican in 2018, but didn’t vote in that year’s Primary or General elections.

The first ballot he ever cast wasn’t until this year’s Aug. 18 primary election for which his name was on the ballot.

During the candidate forum, Levinson explained his voting record.

“I was anti-politics, I was anti-government for years while when I was in high school. But when I was in high school my idol was Ronald Reagan,” Levinson said.

Levinson also used office space at Skyway Park in Tampa for the August forum. Levinson is president of the Tampa Bay Youth Football League and, as such, has access to the facilities. His use of the facility raised questions about whether or not it was a violation of 501(c)3 rules by using non-profit resources for political campaign purposes. Under Internal Revenue Service rules, non-profit organizations cannot participate in a political campaign.

Using non-profit space could violate that rule and potentially jeopardize the organization’s tax exempt status.

Levinson told Florida Politics he was leaving work at the facility for a the planned forum, but didn’t have time to make it home for the forum. So, using his personal computer he participated from the facility not realizing it was a violation.

When confronted about the issue by a critic, Parks and Recreation Department Director Rick Valdez said he discussed the concern with Levinson and that Levinson “did not admit or deny the allegations.” Levinson was told not to conduct any further political activities at Skyway Park without proper approval.

Levinson said he heeded the warning and has not since conducted any campaign business from the public facility.

Levinson is running against former Tampa City Council member Harry Cohen for the District 1 seat on the Hillsborough County Commission. Cohen is a Democrat, Levinson a Republican.

Cohen is favored to win the race and would replace Commissioner Sandy Murman, a Republican, who is term limited out of office and instead running for the District 6 seat against fellow incumbent Pat Kemp.

Cohen has raised more than $178,000 in the race while Levinson has brought in just over $13,000.

Janelle Irwin Taylor

Janelle Irwin Taylor has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in Tampa Bay since 2003. Most recently, Janelle reported for the Tampa Bay Business Journal. She formerly served as senior reporter for WMNF News. Janelle has a lust for politics and policy. When she’s not bringing you the day’s news, you might find Janelle enjoying nature with her husband, children and two dogs. You can reach Janelle at [email protected]


10 comments

  • Sonja Fitch

    October 22, 2020 at 11:04 am

    Damn these “white man privilege “ lies! Vote Democrat up and down ballot for the common good!

  • Rick

    October 22, 2020 at 12:29 pm

    Lmao wow Cohen literally has no more rat holes to hide under huh?

    He has fallen this low to have his friends post shit.

    Has he f*cked y’all in the @ss too?

    how many times have democrats said “but, this time” and nothing changes.

    Tell Cohen to get out of the closet and come talk to us about his stupid idea of tearing down 275 for a monorail the dinosaurs will ride on.

    Or maybe he can tell us why he voted to plan to rezone the district even further so the low income neighborhoods get pushed even further away to the land of nothingness.

    Or lets talk about Stovall House and the gambling/prostitution going on in bayshore if you’re ready?

    Shouldn’t surprise you to know Bad Jane and Cohen the hobbit, go hand in hand to spray paint floors while letting trump supporters get ran over for holding a trump sign while they both look the other way and hold hands to The Wizard of Oz land.

    Come back home, get a grip and wake up to these horrible people.

  • Ed V

    October 22, 2020 at 1:36 pm

    Never voted before in his life until he voted for himself two months ago.

    Lied about when he registered to vote.

    Claims he forgot that he attended a drug intervention program that was mandated by the court after his arrest which he also claims to have forgotten about.

    Used County park facilities that are paid for with taxpayer money to hold political events. Jeopardized the non profit status of a program for kids in the process. Just goes to show that he only cares about himself.

    Verified now that he used taxpayer property for his political campaign but would not confirm or deny when investigated by the County. So much for personal responsibility,

    Claims that Regan is his idol yet he know nothing about Regan. “Just as important as how we vote is that we vote… Every time we vote we help to make America stronger.” – Ronald Reagan. But he did not vote for over 35 years.

    Bottom line is he would fit right into the cesspool of DC politics right here in Hillsborough County. No surprise he is running for commission. Dishonest, self-centered and manipulate.

  • Mark M

    October 22, 2020 at 2:08 pm

    This clown seems to forget a lot of things. I bet he will forget all about the promises he made on the campaign trail too.

  • Mr. Wilson

    October 22, 2020 at 4:45 pm

    He said he was leaving work and running late so he used the county facilities for his campaign event? Why does he work at Skyway everyday? He does not work for the county and should only be there during football season. Why are county taxpayers paying for this guy to have a free office to work out of 365 days a year? Where do I sign up for my free office paid for by the taxpayer?

  • J

    October 22, 2020 at 5:43 pm

    WOW COHEN THIS IS A LOW BLOW EVEN FOR YOU. MAKING PRAISE FOR A DEAD MAN’S DAD? Pathetic. Talk to us about yur partner or are you afraid of the LGBT community like you’ve said before.

  • Kate

    October 22, 2020 at 5:46 pm

    Cohen can you stop paying people to write empty articles. Can you come clean with your failed attempts at being a commissioner or a mayor or a human being? Pathetic.

  • Alex M

    October 22, 2020 at 10:26 pm

    Mr Wilson (though not your real name)

    TBYFL has leagues all over complexes to help families. Maybe you should try it once in your life. People like you and Mr Cohen obviously don’t care about kids.

  • Debbie

    October 23, 2020 at 12:39 am

    He didn’t remember getting arrested or going to court or performing his sentence? What was he smoking? Sounds like he killed off a few too many brain cells.

  • Eric M

    October 23, 2020 at 12:49 am

    Debbie,

    The only thing smoking is Harry Cohen’s last brain cell. He was the city council member in charge during a rape case. We need to replace Cohen period.

Comments are closed.


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